Illinois Supreme Court Rules: Reasonable Suspicion Justifies Traffic Stops


We’ve all done it; crossed over the dividing line, just for a moment, while driving.  There are many reasons why we crossed the line:  the cell-phone rang, kids screaming in the back seat, changing the station or possibly, driving under the influence.  No matter what the reason for the traffic violation, you just gave the cop behind you, reason to turn on his flashing lights.

According to the Illinois Bar Journal, October 2012, in People v Hackett, 2012 IL 111781, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that reasonable suspicion, not probable cause is the proper standard for an investigatory traffic stop.  Hackett’s defense argued that the defendant made only “momentary crossings” of a highway lane line and therefore the officer lacked reasonable grounds to make a stop.

“The Supreme court rejected the notion that the distance or length of time of the lane deviations made any difference in the enforcement of a statute that prohibits any improper lane usage” (Illinois Bar Journal, Oct. 2012 v. 100).  The ruling now justifies an “investigative stop,” which will allow the police officer to investigate the reason for a traffic violation.

Assistant Appellate Defender Kerry Bryson stated “There has to be no reasonable explanation for the deviations” in order for an investigatory stop to be justified.  Are the narrow three lane roads in downtown Ottawa a reasonable explanation?  Call the Miskell Law Center today to set up a free consultation to discuss your case, (815)431-9300 or visit us on the web,